Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mama's Boy

So my little bit is quite taken with me. If I am within eyesight, he is whining unless I am sitting by him. If I am sitting by him while he plays, every 30 seconds or so, he looks back to makes sure I am still there and then for further verification, reaches out that cute chubby hand to touch me, just to make sure I'm not some figment of his imagination. Or atleast that is what I think he is doing. If I am holding him, you can forget about getting him to go to you willingly. Even if "you" are dada, sadly. If you are holding him and I walk by, he will leap out of your arms towards me. hold tight. 90% of the time, this melts my heart. 10% of the time, I get frustrated because there are things I need to do that are difficult to do with 20 pounds of cuteness in your arms. Also, I realized quickly how much I am like my mother within moments of Mark's first whine. I would rather full-blown tears to the whining. Dear God, it grates on my last nerve. Much like the teeth-grinding Mark currently finds as a good way to amuse himself.  I just cannot take it. That being said, I know I need to appreciate this time because before I know it, he wont want much to do with me and I'll be craving a simple kiss or hug. Or I'll be doing this.  It's easier said that done and it is an undeniable fact that we don't know what we have until it is gone. I could go on and on about how head over heels in love with my sweet Mark but I do that frequently. But being a mother is not all roses and ponies. It's tough. Definitely the hardest thing I've ever done. Coincidentally, it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done and certainly the most meaningful.

Mark is certainly becoming his own little person. I think it is sometimes easy to forget that a tiny little baby who cannot communicate with words can have such a strong personality. My mother put it best when she described him as "willfull." He is very determined, and aside from wanting me with him constantly, he is independent. Although he wants me nearby, he does not want me to hand him his toys. Oh no, he would much rather wiggle and struggle to grab that toy on his own. I consider myself to be a very independent person so I am allowing this personality trait to blossom. I let him do for himself, although feeding at the moment is quite the task. He cannot manage utensils yet so I am always trying to find healthy and nutritious finger foods. We had sweet potato pancakes last night that were a hit!

I have said this for months but I notice that he is frustrated with his limitations. He wants to walk. Desperately. He is happiest when I am holding his hands while he walks or when he is standing at his music table. However, he is wobbly and he gets mad when he falls down. He was so easy going for the first 7-8 months of his life and now that we are nearing month 9, I think we are in for a treat. We got a glimpse of what his temper tantrums might look like this week. It could have been related to teething and a persistent cold but I remember the moment when he was having a meltdown and George and I just looked at each other and although no words were exchanged, we had "uh oh" written all over our faces.

I am bracing myself for the storm and reminding myself that although I used to judge (pre-baby) parents of toddlers who had temper tantrums, karma is  B. Now that I am a mother, I know that all that judgment was my inability to understand. ALL babies have temper tantrums and it in no way reflects good parenting, or the lack thereof. And like everything in life, you cannot truly understand until you have experienced it firsthand. Oh joy.  I am a little nervous of what's to come. I know we'll get through it but the anticipation has me slightly rattled. Yes, I am a control freak so it will be quite interesting to see how this head-strong mama deals with her equally head-strong son who melts her heart one minute but is ripping her hair from its roots the next. Literally.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Must-Have Baby Products

The other day my mom asked, "now that you've had some time to use all of the products you purchased for baby, which do you think were not worth buying?" I had to think a bit on that one and that inspired this post for what I believe are must-have items before you bring that sweet baby home. Since quite of few of my good girl friends have yet to have babies, I hope this post is relevant. You can put some of these items on your registry or just purchase them yourself. Either way, you're going to need them. Again, this is just based on my personal experience, many of you may disagree with me.  Also, all babies are different and I only have one. Most of my links are to products. I strongly recommend subscribing and setting up the delivery system, it is such a time-saver.

**I'll Update as I think of more**


Must-Have for New Mommies (in no particular order):

1. Happiest Baby on the Block  Book. The 5 S's are amazing and truly saved our sanity in those early months. Read this preferably before you have the baby, although I read it when Mark was a couple weeks old and we were able to implement the 5 S's pretty quickly. Keep this book at your fingertips in those early months because you may find yourself in a haze and not able to recall all of the tips...especially at 3 am.

3. Diapers. Lots of them. In some of my reading during pregnancy, and believe me I did LOTS of that, it estimated that in the first 6 weeks you would go through 600 diapers. It recommended that you get 100 of newborn size and 500 of size one. Mark weighed 8 pounds at birth and was a big boy. Those amounts worked for us. We tried Pampers, Huggies and Target brand. The Huggies and Target brand leaked often as breastfed babies often have more frequent and looser stools. We are still using Pampers now and love them.

4. Wipes. Buy the non-scented ones initially. New baby skin can be incredibly sensitive and harsh smells can cause irritation. We purchased an extra pack of cheap washcloths and used that with a squirt bottle of water in the beginning to help with the diaper rash. It cleared right up.

5. Laundry Detergent. You will need to wash all of baby's clothes, blankets, burp cloths etc (i.e., anything that will come in contact with baby's skin). We personally used Dreft because I love the smell. However, it is definitely overpriced and All Free and Clear is just as gentle and about $5 cheaper.

6. Laundry Basket. Anything will do, but because baby's clothes need to be washed with the gentle detergent initially, you will want to keep the laundry separate.

7. Diaper Pail. I am a fan of the diaper genie. It kept the odor contained. Then again, Mark was exclusively breast fed and poopy diapers of breastfed babies are so much less foul than their formula fed counterparts. If you get the genie, you will need the refills. Whatever  pail you choose, choose one that contains the odor or else you will be making many trips to the trashcan.

8. Clothes. This is where many people go overboard. Sure, it is very exciting and I fell prey to draw of it all. However, I quickly learned that babies spit up on ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. As well and peepee and poop on it. And trust me, there is a lot of all of the above. So, in the early weeks, invest in casual clothes that can be stained and easily washed. Save the smocked garments for when baby is a little older and isn't pooping 8-10 times per day. I recommend footed pajamas that baby can wear all day and the gowns for at night. The gowns are awesome for middle of the night diaper changes...easier on you and not as disruptive to baby. Onesies are great for warm-weather newborns. If you purchase 8-10 of each of these, you will be set for the first couple of months. Of Course you will need a couple of outfits that you deem appropriate for socializing but dont go overboard. The footed pajamas are acceptable attire for many months. If you do purchase some out-of-the-house wear, I recommend soft, breathable cotton. Avoid harsh materials with irritable fabrics.

9. Bottles. For us, this was trial and error. Mark initially liked the Breast Flow bottles but then we let time lapse (big mistake) and when we tried to reintroduce, he was not having it. He ultimately took to the Tommee Tippee. I have heard good things about the Dr. Browns (except that they are hard to clean) and the biggest pro for the Playtex Drop-Ins is that they are so easy to clean.

10. Bottle cleaner. The brand for this will depend on the bottle you choose. But definitely get one of these as your standard kitchen sponge will not get into the grooves of the bottles/nipples and you want to make sure you are cleaning every inch of your bottle.

11. Nose Freida. This is SO MUCH better than your standard nasal aspirator. That being said, hold on to the one they give you in the hospital. But DO NOT purchase one from the store, as it will not work as well. Trust me, we lost our one from the hospital and purchased 3 different ones, none of which worked. I had to call our pediatrician in a panic and because he is awesome, he gave me another. Then I discovered the Nose Freida. It is awesome. And don't worry, you will not get anything you suction in your mouth-it is protected.

12. Swaddle Blanket. This is part of the 5 S's from the Happiest Baby on the Block Book listed above. I had the muslin blankets (see #40) but I preferred the velcro swaddlers. Mark couldn't break out of those.

13. Burp Cloths. I preferred cloth diapers because they were easy to wash and much more absorbent.

14. Bath Towels

15. Wash Cloths
16. Shampoo, Body Wash and Lotion. There is much debate between organic and non-organic. We use Johnson and Johnson Lavender and I absolutely love it. I think if I smell it when I am 90 years old I will be brought back to the time when I massaged my sweet baby every night following bathtime. You may want to get a sensitive skin brand as backup in the event your baby is allergic to the perfumes.

17. Diaper Rash Cream. There are so many out there but our personal favorites are A&D Ointment and Desitin.

18. Pack N Play. You don't need one with all the bells and whistles and you only need this if you are going to have baby in your room initially. A simple one will do. If you do get one, get a couple of extra sheets for those instances where baby spits up, or the diaper leaks.

19. Swing. This is a polarizing item. Some babies love it, and some absolutely hate it. If possible, borrow someone's to see your babies preference before you dole out the money. If that is not possible, I have heard that most babies enjoy the side-to-side motion offered in the modern swings and that all babies do not like the front-to-back motion of the more tranditional swings.

20. Baby Bath tub. You will need a safe place to bathe baby.

21. Baby Monitor. Some people never use these. I never used it at night because Mark's crib is down the hall and I always heard him. I did use it if I needed to go outside during a nap or if we were watching tv in the living room and his door was shut. I have a traditional monitor that I have had no problems with, although I think I will invest in a video monitor for the next baby. Though I do not think it is necessary.

22. Changing Pad and cover.

23. Rectal Thermometer. According to health professionals, this is the most accurate measure for a baby's temperature. It doesn't seem to bother them when they are small.

24. Infant Car Seat. Do your research here. We have the Chicco Key Fit because it is the easiest to install. We did not opt for the Key Fit 30 ( ours is a 22 pound weight limit) because we were told that although it could last until the baby was 30 pounds, the height requirement was the same for both and most babies would outgrow the height requirement before they attained 30 pounds. We wanted a carseat that was an infant carrier as well because it was easier to pull the entire seat out of the car than to wake the baby.

25. Stroller with adapter for car seat. See above, it is easier in the beginning to just take the entire carseat out of the car, rather than trying to remove the sleeping baby.

26. Baby Carrier. I used a sling in the beginning because it was easier to get stuff done around the house with my hands free. George preferred the Baby Bjorn. During Mark's Colic-ey period, we would wear him and it always soothed him to sleep.

27. Rock and Play Sleeper. This is great for babies with colic or for a change-up from the swing. I used this alot  in the beginning. Then again, I put it away by the time he was 5 months old.

28. Crib Sheets.

29. Sheet savers. These are great to have down because in the middle of the night, when baby spits up or the diaper leaks, you don't want to have to change his sheets as well as baby's clothes. With this, you just replace the sheet saver.

30. Safe nail clippers. Their nails grow so fast and are super soft, like paper. You may want to just use a nail file although that did not work for us. I used the baby clippers in a well-lit room while baby was sleeping and peaceful.

31. Diaper Bag. Do your research here. You'll want one big enough for  a change of clothes, burp cloth, wipes, diaper rash cream, diapers, a few toys etc. but you wont want it so big that it is too bulky to manage. Try out different ones.

32. Activity Mat. Preferably one with a tummy-time option.

33. Toys- Get a few Brightly colored, soft toys.

34. Crib. Buy new here, don't get a hand-me-down. You want to make sure it is up-to-date with current standards.
35. Crib Mattress. Opt for a firmer matress for reducing the rate of SIDS.

36. Changing Table/Dresser Combo. This will eliminate the need for a separate changing table.

37. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm

38. Large Dispenser of Hand Sanitizer. Keep it within arms reach for when you have lots of visitors coming to see your new baby. Insist that they apply a generous dose before handling your little one.

39. Infant Tylenol. Use only after consulting with your pediatrician.

40. Receiving Blankets. I recommend the muslin blankets as they can be used as a swaddle, or a light-weight blanket.

41. Teething Toys. Our Personal favorites are Sophie the Giraffe, Razberry, and The Mesh bags filled with either breastmilk icecube or frozen banana.

42. If you have a boy AND you choose to have him circumsized- Gauze and A&D Ointment

44. Baby in Sight Mirror. Put your mind at ease when you are traveling alone with baby in the car by  being able to keep an eye on him/her.


For the Breastfeeding Mother:

1.The Breastfeeding Bible aka, "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding." I am a huge breastfeeding advocate. Not only is it best for, and what was intended as baby's first milk, it also has tremendous benefits for mother. It is what nature intended. That being said, it is not easy initially; in fact, it can be really hard for some. It was for me. Fast forward almost 9 months later and parts of me are dreading stopping. I read this book twice before I brought Mark home from the hospital and I consulted it endlessly in the first 3 months. I know you may not plan to breastfeed, but I think you should atleast try. Any amount is better than none at all. This book will help you. It is a little extreme IMO in some instances but the knowledge is invaluable and the tips are helpful to say the least. Keep this book within reach as well, as it is difficult to remember all the information in a sleep-deprived state.

2. Breast Pump. Based on what you can afford, the hospital grade pumps are the better route. I have the Medela Pump in style and it works great. Although I have been told it might not last me through the next child.

3. Nursing Pads. You will leak in the beginning. ALOT. These will save you from having to change your clothes and sheets in the middle of the night.

4. Nursing Bras/Tanks

5. Lanolin.

6. Freezing/Storage Bags if you plan on building up a freezer stash and/or your supply.

8. Extra Pillows: It can be difficult to hold the baby to breast so the extra pillows will support your arms and the baby.

9. Bottles with Slow flow nipples

10. Hands free pumping Bra if you plan on pumping when you return to work.

11. Boppy Pillow or My Breast Friend pillow. I used the Boppy but I have heard alot of people complain about how it does not fit around their waist. I still use it and like it. I have only heard good things about the My BreastFriend Pillow.

Things you Dont Need:

1. Separate Changing Table

2. Bottle Warmer. You do not need this UNLESS your baby is going to be getting all of his/her meals from a bottle. Then you may want it. Remember that if baby goes to daycare, they will be responsible for warming most of baby's bottles.

3. Wipe Warmer

4. Bottle Sterilizer. An old fashioined pot with boiling water works just as well. This is just more stuff, and you'll soon realize you dont need any more of that.

5. Sleep Sheep/Sounds Machine. If you get this as a gift, keep it, but it is not a must-have. We used it alot initally but I used it to help me sleep, not the baby. It can create a dependency and that is something you do not want to do.

6. Bumper Pad. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against their use. Save yourself some money and don't purchase one.

7. Baby Mittens. Your baby needs to use their hands for fine motor development. Do not cover them. If you are worried about them scratching, trim their nails. And if they do scratch themselves, it is not the end of the world, their skins heals remarkably fast.

What do you experienced mom's think? Did I miss anything? Leave any tips in the comments below.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up

Phew! This week has been exhausting. Hell, the past few have been exhausting. George is on a rotation that requires him to sleep at the hospital every 4th night (not nearly as bad as Q3 Call). This means that I am on my own the nights he is on call and depending on the amount of sleep he gets on said shift (Range of 0-4 hours), he is so exhausted the next night that he isn't much help on post-call nights either. I don't blame him, I could NEVER work for that long of a consecutive period and I would be a holy terror if I had to. But I digress. So when George is on these rotations, a lot of the "managing the household" duties falls on me. This means running errands during pretty much every lunch break (cleaners, grocery, dog food, gift for upcoming birthday or party, gas etc). After work, once I pick Mark up from daycare,  he nurses as soon as we get home. I then I try to fit in a walk or exercise of some sort and come home to fix us both dinner. Dinner is followed by bathtime, cuddle time, story time, and prayers. Then I tuck my sweet angel in at 8. That leaves about an hour of time per day of "me" time before bed. After I put Mark to bed I am picking up the mess that has accumulated, making bottles, prepping food for dinner the next day, making Mark's babyfood etc. I love that hour for me, but I am often torn between laying on the couch to watch some DVR with George, updating this blog, or just going to bed early. Usually, an hour of mindless tv watching wins. I can't do the latter yet because I wake Mark at 10pm to eat one more time before I go to bed. I know this will shock a lot of people that I still wake him but I really really really love his 7 am wake time and I dont want to mess with it. And although he is doing much better with solids (more on that later), he still is getting most of his nutrition from milk and so I am not ready to stop. Besides, it is my favorite nursing, he is so peaceful and still which is a rarity these days. and I will miss it when I stop.

Before you think I am complaining, let me clarify that I feel incredibly blessed every day. Not every moment... sometimes I feel stressed... but more often than not, I know just how blessed my life is and am infinitely aware of the joy Mark brings to both of us. And though it is exhausting, I would not trade one second and I would not give any less of my time than I do. If I could, I would give more. I only wish there were more moments. I also know how incredibly lucky I am that I get about 7-8 hours of uniterrupted sleep per night and have been  since Mark was 11 weeks old. As I am constantly reminded, I most likely will not receive this gift with my next child. Mark is such a happy baby, always armed with a smile for everyone (particularly the ladies) and a hug for his momma.

As the title suggests, here are some musings of what we are currently experiencing (in no particular order):

1. We have a CRAWLER!! It started on Wednesday morning and though it was a little slow going for the first 24 hours, he is full-blown crawling now and loving every second. ::::Please ignore the excited parents voices, the dog panting in the background (we had just returned from our afternoon walk) and the messy room (this is what I "clean" after baby goes to bed):::

He also really really wants to walk but that requires assistance and my back is not a fan. Maybe I'll have to invest in this...

2. He is eating so much better. He eats 3 meals a day and one snack. He is still only eating about 8 oz of food per day and some puffs but he is showing more interest. This week we added mangos, apricots, green beans, yogurt and chicken to his diet. He loved everything except for the chicken. Of course if I mix it with fruit, he likes it but I think it is the texture. Sound familiar to anyone familiar with my eating habits??? He is particularly fond of his banana pancakes (whole grain mix, breastmilk, and mashed banana) and at daycare they say they cannot feed him fast enough. Mimi, get ready when he comes to spend the weekend with you in a few weeks- he'll be expecting some of your finest banana pancakes.  He is exactly the same with yogurt. He starts waving his hand at me and grunting if I dont feed him in a constant shoveling motion.

This would make my son very happy, if it were loaded with yogurt
3. I entered Mark into the Gap Baby Contest. Dont judge. I just think he is the cutest baby ever and the $1000 gap gift card sounds pretty good. Not to worry, I am not a pageant mom and this will be the extent of it. Or will it. bahahaha

4. After almost 9 months, I am back in my PRE-preggo skinny jeans!!! Insert happy dance here. I have been doing weight watchers and trying to be more active. That and the calories burned from breastfeeding is what has done it. This breastfeeding is an awesome diet plan. Maybe I'lll just do it forever and donate the milk??? There's a thought!

5. Mark had his first French Quarter Fest Experience. He was so good, never really fussing and just taking it all in. Nursing was interesting because it was warm and he does not understand why we need to be covered. Oh well, he got a little and then he wanted to get back to the party. We even took him to el gato negro and although I'm pretty sure he ate his weight in yogurt melts, we were able to have a couple drinks, appetizers and dinner with Mimi. Good memories.

6. I have discovered that Mark now has a special smile for me and a different but still special one for George. He gives them to noone else except mommy and daddy respectively. It makes my heart swell so much it might burst to see how his face lights up when George rolls over in the morning while Mark is nursing and he pops off to smile at daddy. I get a little misty sometimes when he gives me an entirely different, but just as wonderful smile. Being a mommy is hardwork but I am rewarded tenfold through moments like these.

So there it is, our past week in highlights. There have been plenty other wonderful moments, but I could go on for days and who would want to read that? ha. Even though our life is often fast-paced and busy, I would not trade it for anything. Mark brings so much joy to our lives and makes us better because of it. Thank you son for being you, for being wonderful and for being the highlight of my life. I love you more than words can describe.

Friday, April 13, 2012

20 Things I want my Son to know

So I cannot take credit for this idea or the inspiration for this entry. There are many variations out there but I wanted to write a personal list to my son.

1. I love you. You are one of the great loves of my life. Next to your father, I could not imagine loving another person so completely, without bounds and unconditionally. That is, until they placed you in my arms. I love you times infinity and there is nothing I would not do for you. This unimaginable love continues to grow deeper every day.

2. Be Creative. Draw, write, paint, compose, build. Whatever your heart desires. Don't be afraid to fail.

3. Forgive Others. Forgive yourself. Do not hold onto grudges, you are only hurting yourself. Let go of past hurts. Don't forget them and learn from them, but let them go. Do not let others hold that much power over you.

4. Dance in the Rain. Smile during the sad times, Find good in bad. You will be challenged in this life, but remember that this life is short and it is yours to enjoy.

5. Fall in Love. Love is love is love. It takes all different forms and I will support you regardless of who you love. Love knows no race, creed, gender. It simply is.

6. Find your Passion. Find something that sets your heart on fire and then go after it.

7. Be a Friend. Life is not measured by the moments but by the relationships we have in those moments. Be a true friend to someone, to many. I hope that by my example, you will learn what it means to be a good friend.

8. It's ok to be different. To me, you are perfection incarnate. We are all different, everyone is unique in their own way. That is what makes this world beautiful. Accept others for their differences and appreciate them; you will find that with this attitude, the same courtesy will be afforded to you.

9. You can Let go of your penis. Seriously. It will not fall off.

10. See the world. Not just for aesthetics but also to develop a deeper appreciation for different cultures and people. Seeing different parts of the world will teach you humility, respect and appreciation for what you have. Those are three invaluable lessons.

12. Dream Big. I will support you in whatever path you choose to make your living. However, you will earn your living and you will work for something.

13. If you fall, pick yourself up. Don't throw yourself a pity party, get back up, learn from your mistake and carry on stronger than you were before.

14. Be kind to those less fortunate than you. The true measure of a man is how he treats those who he can get nothing from.

15. Do not regret. anything. You are exactly where you are because of your past, do not regret it. Also, make decisions based on the mantra that you do not want to regret that decision after it is made.

16. Think before you Ink. God please do not destroy your body with ink ever. You will look rediculous. There are plenty of other ways to positively express yourself in this world rather than PERMANENTLY disfiguring your body. It may be the cool thing to do, but please, don't ever make a decision with that rationale. Be independent. And I promise you, the tatoo will not look good when you are 40, 50 and by 60, it will look disgusting.

17. You will always be my baby. No matter what. When you are holding your own baby, you will still be mine. So when I seem overbearing, it is because I will forever remember those long nights when I cradled you in my arms, rocking you and singing to you. I will never forget those nights when you put your tiny hands around my neck and squeezed. The way you looked up at me after filling your tummy with mommy's milk and smiled. I can't undo those memories and to me, you will always be my baby.
18. Learn how to keep house. Your future wife will thank me. You will learn how to do dishes, do the laundry, use a vacuum and mop. This is not a woman's job so you need to learn it.

19. You are never alone. No matter where you are, how many miles away you are from me, or even if I am no longer physically here, you carry my love in your heart. Hold onto it when you are lonely or scared. My love is always right there with you.

20. Know that wherever you are in life, you can come home. I will be there, always.